In the U.S., bicycles are considered vehicles, and hold the same rights on the roadways as motor vehicles do. However, because bicycles are much smaller, slower and difficult to see, motorists must take extra safety measures when sharing the road with bicyclists.
Yield Right of Way
When approaching an intersection, yield the same right of way to bicycles as you would a vehicle. According to SmartMotorist.com, approximately one in three accidents involving bicycles occur when motorists fail to yield the right of way to bicycles by either making a left turn in front of an oncoming bicycle, or pulling out from a stop sign in front of a bicycle. Always look for bicycles at intersections, and be prepared to wait for a bicyclist to pass before you proceed.
Many motorist-bicyclist accidents are avoidable by simply being aware of potential hazards. For example, although both motorists and bicyclists must obey posted speed limit signs, it is a good idea to lower your speed when approaching a bicyclist on the road. Similarly, motorists should give bicyclists plenty of space to ride, as well as anticipate potential hazards to both themselves and bicyclists. Also, be careful to follow bicyclists at a safe distance — especially during dangerous weather.
Bicyclists are equally responsible for safety when riding on public roadways, although not all bicyclists are skilled in riding safety. For example, professional riders are much more likely to understand and adhere to traffic laws and safety precautions than leisurely cyclists and young children. Though you should be careful around all bicyclists, be especially cautious around young children and riders who may be distracted by other riders cycling with them. Doing so may not only prevent a serious accident or injury, but it could save a life too.